Warming Up!

Warming Up!

Like most iPhone users, I’ve fallen in love with the device because it’s such a handy tool for bringing information right to your fingertips no matter where you are.  When I am on the bus riding into my office in New York, I’ve made a new habit of checking in on the new articles that the Couch-to-5K Facebook site makes available.  This morning I stumbled on an article about Winter Sports Nutrition.  Since I’m nervous about keeping my running progress going during the brutal cold winter months – my eyes train right in on articles that might carry golden nuggets to help me with this.

This article was talking about the importance of hydrating yourself, good nutrition and staying warm in the winter months during any sport or winter activity.  Did you know that the body’s natural thirst mechanism is blunted by cold temperatures?  Yea, apparently it’s true.  Your natural thirst instincts are lower in the winter, and many winter sport athletes are partially dehydrated without realizing it.  As you breathe in cold dry air, your body works to warm it up and humidify it for your lungs.  So as you breathe out, you are losing a lot water in your breath!  Huh, who would have thunk it!  So drink up (water, that is) during the winter.  It’s easy to forget this in the cold temps, and your body won’t remind you as easily, even though you might be sweating.  And be careful not to confuse Thirst for Hunger.  Drink that glass of water first, wait 20 minutes and then see how you feel.

The other neat Ah-ha moment I had reading the article had to do with keeping warm.  Apparently Food has an overall warming effect on the body.  Your body generates about 10% more heat after eating than on an empty stomach.  So eating doesn’t only provide the body with fuel, it also provides warmth.  Ahhhhhh.  This is so interesting!  Doesn’t it make more sense now when you wonder why we seem to “settle in,  hibernate, and store up food” in the cold winter months?  When the temperatures drop outside, and your body temperature drops, your body calls out for food  to warm it up.  You get hungry because your body wants fuel to “stoke the fire”, so it can generate body heat. 

Sometimes when I read different articles, I feel like I’m finding puzzle pieces and fitting them together.  I read an article a while back that said when you dress for running that you need to dress as if it’s 20 degrees warmer than it is outside.  I didn’t believe it at first and when the mercury dropped to 40 degrees outside, I layered up to go running outside.  Well, I was like Gypsy Rose Lee stripping my clothes off as I ran down the streets.  Not as attractive as it sounds, trust me 🙂 

The important nugget of information is that exercise increases your body temperature too.  Exercise is an excellent way to warm your body in the cold days of winter, and it will warm up the body and stave off those “hunger pangs” your body is sending out simply because it wants to survive the cold temps.   So, always check the outside temps before you head out for your winter run.  Add 20 degrees to the outside temp, and dress accordingly.  I love the UnderArmour jackets that have the built in mitten cuffs.  You just flip them over your fingers at the beginning of the run, when you are most likely to feel the chill, and you can flip them off as you warm up.  I also always start off with a hat or a headband that covers my ears.  I need it for the first half of the run when I feel most chilled, and then later when my furnace is pumping, I remove it, and feel some instant relief from being too warm.

All these little hints and golden nuggets of information will help you stay active during the cold winter, and puts you in power to make the decision about how you will stay warm.  Will you warm up by feeding your false hunger?  Or will you warm up by moving your body closer to your weight and health goals for the New Year and Beyond???  The Choice is Yours!!!

Ciao for now…..Diane

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